Martinu: Cello Concerto No. 1, Cello Concerto No. 2

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LABELS: Supraphon
WORKS: Cello Concerto No. 1, Cello Concerto No. 2
PERFORMER: Angelica May (cello); Czech PO/Václav Neumann
CATALOGUE NO: SU 3543-2 Reissue (1981)
These middle-of-the-road performances fail to do full justice to Martinu’s singular blend of vigorous combat and nostalgia for his Czech homeland. May’s even-handed progress needs to make more exultant lunges, though she does capture the inner beauty of the quiet codas in the first two movements of the Second Concerto. Despite these flashes of Martinu at his most personal, it’s hard not to feel that his greatness rests in the later operas and the symphonies rather than any of his works for solo instrument with orchestra. Quite why the sound quality for the Second Concerto is so much poorer remains a mystery: does: it reflect the relatively old-fashioned quality of the later piece? David Nice